tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Qaddafi defends a woman's right not to be a man

Today's Arab woman is not an ottoman, echoed one of the messages of Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi on his recent history-making visit to Italy.

The colonel excoriated his fellow Arabs who treat women as "pieces of furniture which you can change when you want, and no one will ask you why you have done it."

This quip, delivered to an audience of more than 1000 Italian women whose audience the Libyan leader requested on his official state visit, earned Qaddafi praise from some Italian women's rights groups, who declined to specify exactly which Arabs they believed the colonel was talking about.

In related news, Qaddafi arrived happily in Rome escorted as usual by his all-female bodyguard corps; it is not known exactly what rights this particular women's group has vis-a-vis the colonel.

"There is no difference between men and women on a human level," Qaddafi said to his audience, before adding an explanatory self-contradiction: "God made men and women, we must respect the differences between the sexes."

Mara Cafagna, a former beauty queen and topless model who now happens to be Italy's Minister of (ahem) Equal Opportunities, was quite taken with Qaddafi's message of women's liberation. Qaddafi's speech is "a strong clear message against the abuse of women," she said.

But other women in Qaddafi's audience were skeptical, noticing that Qaddafi's bodyguards--far from traditional notions of military protocol--spent most of the time serving their boss drinks.

"He really is on a different planet," said one female guest at Qaddafi's event. Natch!

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, himself an assiduous defender of a woman's right to bare arms (et cetera), showered Qaddafi with the kind of attention he usually reserves for 18-year-old models. And as a result all this political canoodling between the two great lovers of women, all Italians should benefit from lower fuel and electricity bills in the near future.

Qaddafi concluded his speech to the gathered audience of Italian women by asking rhetorically, and referencing a policy that is only applied in Saudi Arabia among Arab countries: "Why should these [Arab] women have to apply to the head of state for the right to drive a car?"

The audience, noted a report from the Guardian, applauded politely,

Then Qaddafi lost them when he added: "This is a matter for their husbands or brothers [to] decide."

As the booing and hissing dislodged him from the rest of his speech, a smiling Qaddafi invited everyone present to visit Libya whenever they wanted, and quickly left the stage.

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